Coming Up Shorts! with… The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1

Welcome back for another full post of Coming Up Shorts! This time, I’m going with theatrical shorts starring The Pink Panther, featuring the shorts from 1964 through 1966 that have been released together on disc in The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1.

Here’s a list and quick plot description for each of the cartoons included in this set (for my comments on the individual cartoons, click on the title to go to my previous reviews):

  1. The Pink Phink (1964) (Length: 6 minutes, 47 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther fights with the Little Man over the color scheme of a house being painted.
  2. Pink Pajamas (1964) (Length: 6 minutes, 19 seconds)
    • A tired Pink Panther finds a place to spend the night, only to find the home belongs to an alcoholic Little Man.
  3. We Give Pink Stamps (1965) (Length: 7 minutes, 1 second)
    • The Pink Panther wanders around a closed department store, periodically trying to avoid the Little Man working as a janitor.
  4. Dial “P” For Pink (1965) (Length: 6 minutes, 31 seconds)
    • A klutzy safecracker tries to rob a safe that the Pink Panther has taken up residence in.
  5. Sink Pink (1965) (Length: 6 minutes, 21 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther faces off against a hunter trying to recreate Noah’s ark so he can hunt all the animals.
  6. Pickled Pink (1965) (Length: 6 minutes, 22 seconds)
    • A drunk invites the Pink Panther into his home, but they have to avoid his wife, who threatens to throw any of her husband’s “friends” out of the house.
  7. Pinkfinger (1965) (Length: 6 minutes, 15 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther takes on a ring of spies.
  8. Shocking Pink (1965) (Length: 6 minutes, 43 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther tries to relax, but the narrator keeps pushing him to work on some things around the house.
  9. Pink Ice (1965) (Length: 6 minutes, 17 seconds)
    • The Panther is operating a diamond mine, but a pair of rival miners steal his diamonds.
  10. The Pink Tail Fly (1965) (Length: 6 minutes, 17 seconds)
    • An exhausted Pink Panther tries to get some sleep, but is interrupted by a persistent fly.
  11. Pink Panzer (1965) (Length: 5 minutes, 50 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther and his neighbor are slowly being turned against each other by the narrator.
  12. An Ounce Of Pink (1965) (Length: 6 minutes, 2 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther runs across a coin-operated talking weight and fortune-telling machine, and he buys it to keep with him.
  13. Reel Pink (1965) (Length: 6 minutes, 17 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther buys a group of worms to go fishing, but one of them keeps giving him trouble.
  14. Bully For Pink (1965) (Length: 6 minutes, 2 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther decides to try being an amateur bullfighter, and borrows a magician’s cape to use.
  15. Pink Punch (1966) (Length: 6 minutes, 27 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther has come up with a health drink of his own, and tries to promote it. He is thwarted, however, by an asterisk from one of his signs that turned green and keeps turning everything green.
  16. Pink Pistons (1966) (Length: 6 minutes, 2 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther buys a compact car (with a mind of its own) and ends up in a drag race.
  17. Vitamin Pink (1966) (Length: 6 minutes, 25 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther is selling some pep pills out west, but finds himself stuck as a deputy when he gives some to an escaped convict.
  18. The Pink Blueprint (1966) (Length: 6 minutes, 25 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther competes with the Little Man on a construction site.
  19. Pink, Plunk, Plink (1966) (Length: 6 minutes, 24 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther tries to get himself into the orchestra at a concert, but the conductor keeps throwing him out.
  20. Smile Pretty, Say Pink (1966) (Length: 6 minutes, 9 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther takes on an amateur photographer visiting a national park.

Like I said when discussing The Ant And The Aardvark, Friz Freleng and David H. DePatie formed DePatie-Freleng Enterprises in 1963. They were approached by director Blake Edwards to design a panther character for his then-upcoming film The Pink Panther (1963), which would appear during the opening credits. That initial appearance proved to be quite popular with audiences, and United Artists ordered a series of theatrical cartoons using that character. The first cartoon put together was the 1964 The Pink Phink, which made use of Henry Mancini’s classic “Pink Panther Theme” music, and established the relationship of the Pink Panther and the Little Man. The cartoon would win an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film, the only Oscar win not only for the series, but also for DePatie-Freleng Enterprises.

The Pink Panther cartoons are among the few I can still remember seeing on TV as a child (beyond the Disney, Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry cartoons). This first set was a lot of fun for me, reliving my childhood. Admittedly, the only one that I really remember was the first one, The Pink Phink (and with them using the classic theme song for the entire score of that one, as opposed to just the opening credits on the rest, really helps set it apart). But, there is still some enjoyment to be found here with the rest, as well. I do confess to the idea that these early cartoons are all over the place, as they try to figure out what to do with the character. Most are completely silent, a few have some other characters talking, and two of them (Sink Pink and Pink Ice) even have the Panther speak! There is a good deal of variety within these shorts (even if at least one does seem close to being a remake of an earlier Looney Tunes short)! The Pink Panther is still one cool cat, and I always enjoy coming back to these cartoons, both for the music and the comedy! They aren’t necessarily restored here, but they look pretty good, and that’s good enough for me to recommend them!

The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1 is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Kino Lorber. The whole set has a runtime of two hours, eight minutes.

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Merrill’s Marauders (1962)

For today’s movie, we have the 1962 war film Merrill’s Marauders, starring Jeff Chandler, Ty Hardin, Peter Brown, Will Hutchins and Andrew Duggan. But before we get into that, here’s my poll for picking the “Star Of The Month” for February 2021!

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming (I know it’s cliche, but I like it just the same)…

Coming Up Shorts! with… Dial “P” For Pink (1965)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1 (1964-1966) from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 31 seconds)

A klutzy safecracker tries to rob a safe that the Pink Panther has taken up residence in. A few enjoyable gags as the safecracker keeps having trouble getting into the safe, whether with the dial, tools or explosives that don’t work in is favor. Maybe not the cartoon series at its absolute best, but it certainly keeps on making things work well! At least I had fun watching it!

And Now For The Main Feature…

In the jungles of Burma during World War II, a group of Allied forces under the command of Brigadier General Frank Merrill (Jeff Chandler) prepare for an assault on the Japanese-held village of Walawbum. Between Frank’s group and that of his Second lieutenant Lee Stockton (Ty Hardin), their attack is successful. All the men, including Frank, are hopeful that their victory means that they can go home, but General Joseph W. Stillwell (John Hoyt) arrives. He orders Frank to take his men and attack the railroad center at Shaduzup as well as the airstrip at Myitkyina. Reluctantly, Frank orders his men to keep moving toward Shaduzup, as they travel through swamps and rivers to get there. Along the way, the men have to deal with leeches, illness and hunger. Even Frank has health issues, as he is forced to confide in his doctor, Captain Abraham Lewis Kolodny (Andrew Duggan), although he asks the doctor to keep this to himself. The men manage to beat the Japanese at Shaduzup, but they lose quite a few men and are completely exhausted afterwards. After much thought, Frank decides they should still move on to Myitkyina, much to the dismay and anger of his men. But can they make it, exhausted as they are, and still beat the enemy?

Merrill’s Marauders was based on the 1959 book The Marauders by Charles Ogburn, a communications officer who had been involved with the original group. Director Sam Fuller had been trying to make a push for Warner Brothers to produce his own autobiographical film The Big Red One, and he went along with Warner’s choice to do this film, as it was considered to be a “dry run” for his own film. Fuller had wanted Gary Cooper for the lead role, and Gary did accept it at first, but he was diagnosed with the cancer that would kill him, so he had to turn it down. And while Sam Fuller was able to get Jeff Chandler to do the role, Jeff’s own back issues caused him trouble, and after filming was done, he underwent surgery for a spinal disc herniation, only to die from complications. The movie ended up being a hit, but Sam Fuller was less than thrilled with the studio-mandated replacements of different scenes with footage done by another director, resulting in his film The Big Red One being delayed for almost twenty years.

Personally, I enjoyed this movie very much. I had fun seeing TV actors Will Hutchins (whom I mainly know from the Warner TV Western Sugarfoot) and Ty Hardin (best known from the Warner TV Western Bronco) in this movie, along with a few other familiar faces. A lot of the movie’s charm is its emphasis on the characters (well, some of the leaders moreso than some of the minor characters), and not as much on the battle scenes (although I thought they were well done, too). You certainly do get to feel for the men, especially when we see how all the fighting and traveling just wears them down, yet they have to keep pushing on. Admittedly, for those who prefer more modern films with all the blood and gore, you won’t find that here (which suits me just fine, as I prefer movies without it). The only point about the movie that lets me down a little is its ending, which seems a little too quick, as I wish they would have continued on just a bit. Other than that, I really enjoyed this movie, and it’s certainly one I would easily recommend!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2019) with… Merrill’s Marauders (1962)

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection. While this is my first time seeing this movie, I will definitely say that the transfer looks great! The colors all look quite natural, the detail is amazing, and the removal of dirt and specks, etc., is quite good, so if you want to see this movie, then the recent Blu-ray release is most certainly the way to go!

Film Length: 1 hour 38 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

Audience Rating: